For more than 80 years, the Village of Patchogue has had a stage at the center of our community, the Patchogue Theatre that originally opened in 1923 as Ward & Glynne’s Theater. In its day, the theatre attracted first run feature films, Broadway productions, vaudeville and the best in burlesque. silent films and performances by John Philip Sousa and acts such as The Rose Royal Midgets could also be enjoyed there. All this for the admission price of 40 cents for adults, half price for children. Glynne operated the theater until the Great Depression, when it was purchased by Prudential Playhouses, Inc. The days of vaudeville had come to a close, but changing updated film and sound equipment maintained the theater as a major venue for first-run films, as well as a community center for bingo, sing-alongs and other activities.
After a fire hit the theater lobby in 1958, the theater was redecorated and designed in a simple and austere manner, with much of the ornate decor simply covered up behind plywood, drywall and wallpaper. The Patchogue Theatre continued to operate solely as a movie house, and in 1982 the ground floor was divided into two theaters, adding a ceiling to extend the balcony level for a third screen. The theater continued to operate as a triplex until 1987 when, through a combination of the recession that hit Long Island at the time and the opening of a 12 screen theater nearby, the building was closed. It stood empty for eight years, and an investigation of the building by village officials and business leaders in October 1994 found that much of the original decor has been preserved under the drywalls, wallpaper and plywood installed in the late 1950s.
In 1997 several local businessmen came up with the initial funds to purchase the theatre and the Village of Patchogue applied for grants to renovate and restore the building to its former glory. The theatre interior was restored to its 1923 grandeur in several phases as the theatre was open for business and the first performance was held in December 1998. There are now 944 orchestra seats and 222 balcony seats; a total of 1166, plus two sections for disabled seating.
Although the Village of Patchogue owns the building, the Patchogue Theatre for the performing Arts (PTPA) operates as a not for profit organization known as the Patchogue Village Center for the Performing Arts under the leadership of a volunteer board of directors. PTPA leases the building from The Village of Patchogue and covers all of the costs of operating the building without any taxpayer subsidies.
In the 2010-2011 Season that ended in may 2011, the theatre was in use for 185 days, including rehearsals, meetings, community events and 140 performances on our main stage and in our lobby. Over 130,000 people came through our doors last year and that number continues to grow each year.